DA: Presidential spending can't be secret

2013-04-14 18:39
President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe

President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe

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Johannesburg - The policy to regulate how the president and deputy president spend public money cannot be kept hush-hush, the DA said on Sunday.

"The presidency has been turned into a state-within-a-state, beyond proper oversight and scrutiny by Parliament," said Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier.

He said that earlier this year he asked for access to a copy of the Presidential Handbook, which apparently gives guidelines for this expenditure.

"However, the presidency's deputy information officer Dr Batandwa Siswana has now informed me that my application for access to the Presidential Handbook has been denied."

Maynier said the reply to his request suggested that the policy was a Cabinet record, and therefore classified.

On Sunday, the City Press reported that the Presidential Handbook was based on a policy document, just over 10 pages long, and was approved by the Cabinet in 2007.

The handbook itself remained in draft form, seven years after the Public Protector issued a recommendation that it be finalised.

Siswana told the newspaper the draft could not be made public as it was "still undergoing deliberation by the relevant government officials and their political principals, where this is necessary".

Seychelles

In February, questions arose about policy governing state expenditure for the deputy president after Kgalema Motlanthe went on holiday to the Seychelles.

According to reports at the time, it was alleged that a local charter plane was contracted - at a cost of R83 000 - to transport him and his entourage after an Air Force Falcon 900 could not land on Desroches Island because the runway was unsuitable.

Motlanthe's spokesperson Thabo Masebe subsequently said the deputy president's security was the state's responsibility.

"That is why all travels, whether private or official, are the responsibility of the state."

The DA said at the time it would ask for access to the Presidential Handbook to establish whether the holiday costs were covered by policy around state expenditure for the deputy president.

"The fact that the policy regulating the use of public funds by the president and deputy president has been shuffled around by paper-pushers in the presidency for more than six years, is nothing but a cynical ploy to protect the president and deputy president from scrutiny and oversight by Parliament," Maynier said on Sunday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    kgalema motlanthe  |  david maynier  |  politics  |  government spending
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